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Edward Wadsworth was born in Cleckheaton, England, on October 19, 1889. In 1906 he moved to Munich to study engineering but spent most of his time studying drawing and woodcutting at the Knirr Art School. After returning to England in 1907, he enrolled in the Bradford School of Art and then the Slade School of Art in London from 1909 to 1912. His first paintings demonstrate his growing interest in industrial subjects. However, he was influenced by Post-Impressionism to create portraits and still lifes.
In 1913 he met Wyndham Lewis, founder of the avant-garde movement known as Vorticism, which was essentially the British counterpart of Italian Futurism. Wadsworth shared the group's ideals and, despite his reservations regarding Futurism, his paintings share a number of its interests, such as the automobile and the industrial city. He was also influenced by the theoretical contributions of Vasily Kandinsky. New perspectives of the world brought about by airplanes are expressed in the abstract compositions of Wadsworth’s paintings and relief woodcuts, which nevertheless always maintain some reference to reality.
From 1915 to 1917 Wadsworth served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. This experience accounts for the marine themes that constitute the primary subject matter of his work, which suggest a somber naturalism. An element of Surrealism, akin to that of Giorgio de Chirico, characterizes his still lifes. He also maintained an interest in the developments of the 1930’s avant-garde movements. He was a member of the Unit One group, founded in 1933 by Paul Nash in order to promote British modern art. His work was shown at the 22nd Venice Biennale in 1940. Wadsworth died in London on June 21, 1949.